Friday, July 26, 2019

Friday Clippings: Viva Las Vegas; Former NM Politico Phil Maloof Markets $15 Million Penthouse 

Phil Maloof
The famous Maloof family long ago dropped off the New Mexico economic and political radar but interest remains in what was once a billion dollar dynasty made up of sports, gambling, entertainment and beer and liquor distribution.

The younger of the Maloof brothers--52 year old Phil--is the best know here because of his service in the state Senate in the 90's representing ABQ's westside and for his two runs for the ABQ congressional seat, both of which he lost in 1998 to Republican Heather Wilson. He spent $8 million on those campaigns--and that was 20 years ago.

While the Maloof family no longer walks with the financial swagger of yore they aren't lining up for handouts. From the LA Times earlier this year:

. . . Phil Maloof is hoping to hit the jackpot in Las Vegas. His high-rise penthouse, which overlooks the Strip from the 59th floor of Palms Place, is on the market for $15 million. The mammoth price tag is still a shadow of what he sought five years ago, when he asked $38 million for the home and offered to throw in Pablo Picasso paintings and a two-year lease on a Lamborghini. Accessed by a private elevator, the condo spans roughly 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor spaces, including a massive rooftop deck with a spa, 30-foot movie screen and panoramic views of the city.

Phil's father, George Maloof Sr., built an empire only to die in 1980 at age 57. His mother, Colleen, 86, took over the family businesses and with her children took them to new heights. Today they have virtually no business presence in New Mexico after being so tightly wound into the fabric of the state via their investments, philanthropy and support of UNM sports.

The Maloof's were part of the state's economic heyday, helping to bankroll a then growing economy, providing jobs for hundreds if not thousands and proudly representing ABQ and NM even as they spread their wings. Certainly they earned their chapter in the never ending book of La Politica.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Dems National Lurch To Left Worries MLG; Says Voters Getting "Scared" Plus: On The City Council Campaign Trail With Rep. Haaland  

The lurch to the left by a number of the Democratic presidential candidates isn't going down well with Governor Lujan Grisham and other Democratic Governors who tend to steer to the middle.

. . . They are especially concerned about proposals that would eliminate private health insurance. “I don’t think that’s good policy or good politics,” said Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association. I think it scares people,” added Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico.

And on immigration the two Dem Guvs said:

They were just as emphatic about immigration, warning 2020 candidates that their support for decriminalizing illegal migration would allow Republicans to cast Democrats as the party of open borders . . . “That just scares too many people who don’t know anything about immigration,” said Ms. Lujan Grisham. . . She said Democrats should lash Mr. Trump for “closing the border,” because it only prompts asylum-seeking migrants “to sneak around” instead of coming to points of entry.

The views of the nominating wing of the Democratic Party and the general public seem to be on stark display in the US Senate primary here. While Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Maggie Toulouse Oliver embrace Medicare for All and  the Green New Deal state Democrats as a whole don't appear to be head over heels over those policies.

The threat of the overreach is the main threat to the state's Dems after achieving control of all three branches of state government and the congressional delegation. The cautionary flag is now being waved by the Governor who is the titular head of that party.


Here is headline that reveals some of the downside of the epic oil boom in SE NM. From High Country News:

Staffers allege misconduct at BLM’s busiest oil and gas office; Complaints to Interior’s Office of Inspector General reveal concerns that the Carlsbad Field Office broke laws to favor industry.


ABQ Dem Congresswoman Deb Haaland isn't shy about getting involved in the ABQ city council races on the ballot this November. She recently endorsed Dem Ane Romero who is seeking the District 4 NE Heights that is being vacated by Republican Councilor Brad Winter. Earlier she endorsed Dem Councilor Pat Davis for re-election to his District 6 SE Heights seat. Davis is opposed by Dem neighborhood activist Gina Naomi Dennis so Haaland taking sides in that one caused some grumbling. But remember, Davis gave a late endorsement to Haaland in the crucial 2018 Dem congressional primary and then withdrew. That was important as it helped her consolidate the progressive vote. Now it's payback time.


We get a variety of reader inquiries that we do our best to answer--like this one:

Joe, the ABQ school crossing guard program was transferred to the Department of Municipal Development, do you know why? 

City spokesman Johnny Chandler responds:

Yes, as of July 1st, 2019 the Department of Municipal Development is overseeing the Crossing Guards program as well as Transit Security personnel. DMD already manages 100 security personnel. Centralizing these divisions allows these programs to be run more efficiently and aligns our public safety efforts related to roads and sidewalks.

See you back here tomorrow with a blast from the political past.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Reader Vox Populi: They Write Of The Northern Congress Race, The ABQ Rail Yards Redo And A Conflicted ABQ 

We start this edition with a DC reader with NM ties who works at a PR firm and who is monitoring the race for the Dem nomination for the northern congressional seat.

Joe, Contrasting itself with the Valerie Plame campaign, Marco Serna's campaign says they "filed every contribution" they received in the second quarter with the FEC. Well, so did Valerie Plame. FEC Regulations require the public reporting of all donations over $200. For the Serna campaign to say Ms. Plame did not report all her donations is misleading. Ms. Plame is not innocent either. She slammed candidate Teresa Leger Fernandez for being a "lawyer/lobbyist" but she then turns around and accepts at least $11,400 in donations from lawyers including: 

$5,600 - Martin Edelman, of Paul Hastings
$2,800 - Marrs Griebel Law, LTD
$2,000 - Mark Williams, of Morgan, Lewis, Bockius LLP
$500 - Thurgood Marshall jr., of Morgan, Lewis, Bockius LLP


Reader Jim McClure writes:

Joe, I’m glad you’re shining a spotlight on the financial black hole of the proposed Rail Yards renovation in downtown ABQ. Just because a building is old doesn’t mean it must be preserved. I’m a big fan of historic architecture. My hometown of Oak Park, IL, has done a superb job of preserving Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and re-purposing vintage commercial buildings, and I enjoyed restoring an old house. There are lots of historic buildings worth preserving in Albuquerque, but the Rail Yards aren't one of them. The building has all the charm of an aircraft hangar. But it’s sitting on a prime chunk of downtown real estate. Is dreaming up new uses for a cavernous ruin the highest and best use of this property? Or can the tract be redeveloped into something completely different, such as a mixed-use complex that will complement the trend of attracting new residents and businesses to downtown? 


James Trapp is the  brother of the publisher of the Rio Grande Sun in Espanola, and writes in that newspaper:

Voter, please stop. Where is your line? Do you have a line? Have any of these recent events in our community crossed your line? What in the world could make you use your voice in a better way?

You have elected many school boards that have done absolutely nothing to improve our children’s education and have no plans on doing so. You have elected an electric cooperative board that is so divided and secretive, it is dysfunctional. You have elected a rerun sheriff who thinks it is a good idea to hire people for our Sheriff’s Office, whom other sheriffs easily knew to not hire. . .You have elected a state senator who is drunk on our roads injuring the citizens he is supposed to work for. He is clueless to the damage he has done to us on a national level. These elected officials represent us as a community and make us all look like uneducated fools. You wonder why we have so many problems in our community? These are the people you have chosen to lead us. . . 


Camisha Cordova writes on Facebook of her thoughts on today's ABQ:  

Oh, Albuquerque, how you keep me conflicted with your beautiful uniqueness, and yet your downright ugliness that festers with crime and violence. After the last ordeal, I’ve decided a gun is a good idea. I never thought I’d say those words, but yet here we are. Then there are mornings where hot air balloons fly 25 ft above your car and the city seems like the most beautiful unique thing on the planet, and you forget for a moment the murders that took place the night before. Ahhh ‘Burqué, you keep it interesting.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

First Cabinet Secretary Feels MLG's Axe; Trujillo Ousted At PED, Plus: Northern Race Rumor Mill And GOP Senate Watch 

Karen Trujillo (AP)
For a Governor who openly admits she is "difficult to work for" it's been mighty quiet on the personnel front in state government. Until now. Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo is the first cabinet member to fall and that's the first public sign of gubernatorial impatience with the pace of progress in her administration:

Unfortunately my expectations were not met in a number of areas. It is absolutely imperative that we genuinely transform public education in this state. We must identify a vibrant and ambitious new leader for the Public Education Department as quickly as we possibly can. The well-being of New Mexico’s students, parents and educators remains the top priority of this administration.

Trujillo made it six months but implementing the sweeping provisions of a landmark court ruling that found New Mexico's public schools are violating the constitutional rights of a wide swath of students--especially those of color--is more like a six year job. At least. And at least Trujillo, 48, showed a sense of humor as she headed home to Las Cruces, saying on twitter:

I was let go today from the Governor's office. I was honored to work with the amazing team at NMPED to move education forward in NM. They will continue to do that, I have no doubt. On that note, is anyone hiring :-)

Poor Karen. She got elected to the Dona Ana County Commission last November and gave it up just weeks later to go to work in Santa Fe. The longtime classroom teacher just got her first lesson in the brutal schoolroom of La Politica.

Observers watching Trujillo walk toward the exits cited the possibility that she wanted MLG to seek some relief by appealing parts of that court ruling that are costing millions and present a major challenge to implement. While former GOP Gov. Martinez was all in on an appeal, MLG has said from the get-go she would not and that she agrees with the sternly worded ruling.

Now the Governor says she will launch another national search for a new secretary. Knowing how to walk the plank without falling off would seem to be a primary qualification.


Will we see another entry into the race for the Dem nomination for the northern congressional seat? The rumor mill went into high gear when John Blair, deputy secretary of state under SOS Maggie Toulouse Oliver, announced he was leaving that position and would soon make an announcement regarding his future.

Blair, an attorney and Santa Fe native, is a former top aide to Congressman Heinrich--now Senator Heinrich--and served as a chief of staff to an Ohio congressman as well as a director in the Department of Interior. That DC experience may have given the 44 year old a case of Potomac Fever. If elected, he would be the first openly gay man to serve in Congress from the state, but the northern district has already seen openly gay mayors in Santa Fe and Espanola. Did the Alligators spoil John's surprise or are they all wet? We'll know soon.

In the race for US Senate,  Nella Domenici of the east coast and daughter of the late NM Senator Pete Domenici, is still toying with the idea of seeking the GOP nomination for the open NM US senate seat next year, according to one of our Alligators.

Mick Rich, who carried the GOP torch in the race against Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich last year, offered no comment when we asked him if he was going to run in 2020 for the senate seat being vacated by Senator Udall.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Torres Small Goes Right On Minimum Wage And More On The Lights Of Albuquerque 

Rep. Torres Small
The tricky positioning for Campaign '20 continues for southern NM Dem Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small. This time she is risking alienating her own party as she walks the political tightrope by voting against a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022:

It’s time for the federal minimum wage to be raised, but in a way that considers the unique factors of each region’s economy. What works in places like New York City or Seattle doesn’t always work in more rural areas like the ones I represent,

That's sure to appeal to some of the conservative rural areas of the sprawling district but it's in Dona Ana County--Las Cruces--where the Torres Small bread is buttered. Her win by nearly 18,000 votes in that liberal county powered her to victory in '18 over Republican Yvette Herrell.

The standing of Torres Small among Dems is strong but that doesn't mean she is completely immune to a primary challenge from the left. Her vote on the minimum could force the issue. It seems a Dem trying to hold on to the southern seat is fated to make both sides mad.


We always enjoy hearing from reader and old friend Carroll Cagle. He was a leading voice of La Politica when he authored the Inside the Capital column once distributed to newspapers across the state. He earned his political stripes at the knee of the late legendary NM Senator Clinton P. Anderson whose staff he served on in the 1960's.

Today he writes of the nonpolitical--of the 1969 song "Albuquerque"--recorded by Glen Campbell but never released. We found a live version of Glen performing it and posted it to the Friday blog. Carroll writes:

Joe, Thanks for letting all of us know about the song, “Albuquerque.” I have loved Glen Campbell’s songs since his earliest successes. These include “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” which also mentions Albuquerque, but I never had heard or even been aware of the “Albuquerque” song you posted.

As you and probably many readers know, Glen headed to Los Angeles in 1960, straight from Albuquerque, and became a much-sought-after “session man” whose impeccable guitar work appeared on albums by, among others, the Beach Boys, Ricky Nelson, Nat King Cole, the Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley. He also toured with the Beach Boys.

Although your headline for Campbell’s “Albuquerque” song says, “Lights of ABQ,” there actually was a lovely song entitled “The Lights of Albuquerque,” written by Jim Glaser.

And, not least, there is another obscure version of a song entitled “Albuquerque” by none other than Neil Young, from his “Tonight’s the Night” album, also available on YouTube. A quirky Albuquerque, as it were.

Whereas politics, as important as it is, can jangle the soul, music both soothes and uplifts it.

Nice job putting it all together, Carroll. As you say music soothes the soul. A. K. Anderson, also reacting to Glen's song, really drives the point home. The song's theme is of a mortally wounded solider getting attention from medics and as he does he recalls the lights of ABQ:

Hi, Joe, Thanks so much for including that Glen Campbell song on your blog. So poignant for me as my cousin is at Presbyterian dying. You can be sure if he dies tonight (or tomorrow or the next day or whenever) we will light the lights of Albuquerque for him for certain! Thanks again!

What can I say? Except that your note is uplifting and humbling. No paycheck can match that.
 I thank you and your cousin, Mr. Anderson.

Here's Jim Glaser who takes us out today with "The Lights of Albuquerque."
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